Archive for January, 2010

On Basilisk Station-A Review

On Basilisk Station is the first novel in David Weber’s Honor Harrignton series. I dove right in after finishing Elantris. This is military sci-fi with a strong flavor of Horatio Hornblower (the similarity to C.S. Forrester character is not accidental). It has a strong combination of modern military fiction while crafting a universe with a nice mix of hard sci-fi and technobable that enables for the kind of manuvers and combat not seen since the age of sail.  The pace is quick, if not downright brutal and the tension (and stakes) remains high through out the story.

Weber writes with a strong self-assured voice that allows the reader to accept the technical parts of the story with ease.  You don’t get reams of world building exposition until the very end, and by that time you are so deep into the story, it hardly deters you from finishing it. He also uses the third person omniscient POV which  comes up as a bit jumpy for someone who (like me)i s used to either 1st person or 3rd person close. It also means that there are few surprises, but Weber doesn’t hang his narrative on ephemeral twists instead concentrating on outcomes.

You also can’t help but feel passionately about most of the cast, which explodes exponentially as the story goes. It can be a bit bewildering to be confronted with so many characters, but the action still rotates around Honor and her crew for the most part, so it is not much of a problem. In fact it reminded me off my days reading techno-thrillers with their mirad of characters.

Two things that bug me a little about this otherwise excellent book; the fast cut away from one scene to the next and the ways the “natives” are treated.  With so many characters to juggle and an omniscient 3rd person POV the action seems to bounce from one situation to the next with a bit of choppiness which can be confusing.

As for the aliens (Medusans/Stilties) Weber avoids most of the sci-fi cliches surrounding alien species such as the rubber forehead aliens, the humanoid alien or sentient animal species, we don’t see any part of the story though their eyes which smacks a bit of cultural imperialism. Then again, the human characters either treat the Medusans as primitives to be condescendingly protected from outside influence (in the noble savage kind of way) or as a resources to be exploited. Then again this might be more of a reflection of the human characters (however well meaning) than the aliens themselves. It also mirror current and past attitudes (especially during the 17th-early 20th century) by Imperial/Western governments about aborigines societies, so it may not be a total loss. Having said that, the only other alien in the books, Nimitz (Honor’s treecat or in this case Honor is Nimitz human) gets far more attention than the Medusans, probably because of its close relationship with the main character.

Overall, this is a well written, tightly crafted and fast paced book. A must for any fan of military science fiction.

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The End and the Beginning of Time

We have ourselves a new doctor, the 11th in the series. I have to say that I a “new” Doctor Who fan, having only watched (although I was aware off) the 2oth century Doctors. But to be honest, it is a good thing that I didn’t watch any of them before Eccleston took the role. I was not prejudiced by the dodgy FX and 80’s cheesy lines, not that the new series don’t have that mind you I simply wasn’t prejudiced by what came before. So I took the appearance of the Cybermen with glee, was impressed by the Daleks and hooked on Rose hotness (yes, she is hot, live with it!).

Eccleston was good, Tenant was better.

So much better. I like the grit and determination that both showed, but a dark shadow loomed over the 10th Doctor and Tenant pulled it off without a hitch. Plus the romantic involvements felt more organic, especially with Rose. He also played well with Donna whom I grew to love (and miss).

But that time has passed. A new decade demands a new Doctor and a new companion (a hot one too by the looks of it and yes she is ginger which makes her even hotter!).

So good luck to the 11th Doctor and a chance to catch up to a year’s worth of “specials” I haven’t seen yet.